I feel that even the most painfully obvious statements in life bare repeating quite often. One of these statements is that if you want to be the best athlete—in this case, grappler—you can be in your given field, then you have to be physically able to perform!
Now, I know you may be shaking your heads at such a blatantly obvious statement, but on many occasions we see athletes in every sport—be it professional or amateur—that show up on competition or game day out of sorts and unable to compete.
Neglecting to properly take care of your self is negligent, and it something every athlete strives to perfect.
However, when talking about your well being, I don’t mean just eating properly and being active, but taking care of your body and treating it correctly so you can be in peak shape at all times.
One very common issue you see, be it in football, basketball, baseball, soccer, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA, etc. is lower back pain.
Some may claim they slept wrong, or their mattress is old…the fact is, if you have lower back pain, chances are high it isn’t just your bed that’s throwing it out of whack. As an athlete you must be aware of what causes back issues, and what you can do to remedy them in a proper and practical manner.
Whether it came by way of a sporting event or not, I’m sure that we have all had some back issues at one point or another. Recall a time where you did some heavy lifting—at the gym or at work—or maybe you pulled a muscle in your back…do you remember the feeling you had the days that followed?
Pretty sore and painful, right?
Having a sore back from working out is one thing, but having a sore back for other reasons isn’t such a good thing. Back problems can stem from more than just typical movements you make throughout the day, they can come from within.
Having poor core strength will cause an imbalance that will force your back to work differently, which will ultimately cause some serious back issues.
If your back isn’t where it should be in terms of strength, then your overall functional movements will diminish greatly. Your lower back and core—your “trunk muscle”—act as Grand Central Station for your body, allowing your upper and lower body to work in synergy with one another.
If there is a delay or busted railed in Grand Central Station, then the trains can’t run properly, and things can get bad.
When facing serious lower back pain, there are countless options that come to mind. We might look at the “easy way out” and look into a message therapist, or a chiropractor, but those aren’t always the most effective ways to remedy lower back pain.
If you find yourself in the gym on most days, then you have countless options to help improve your current state.
Proper stretching—especially in your lower body—will allow the muscles in your back to be at ease, allowing your back to work its way back to normal.
Also, make sure you have the proper lifting program. Working your back can be demanding, but worth it when you factor in just how helpful it can be. Be aware of the muscular imbalances that exist in your body, and focus on taking care of them!
Continuing to neglect proper lower body and back workouts will only accelerate the poor state at which your back is currently in.
You may be surprised, but while you’re reading this—where ever you may be—chances are you are slowly throwing your back out of whack.
It’s common for many people to have poor posture, which is a sign of having inadequate back strength. The slight hunch you have at your desk while pecking away at the keyboard to make your deadline, or while driving your car is slowly doing a number on your well being.
When your posture is poor, the weight is distributed unevenly, causing the back to take on unneeded strain, which will lead to progressively worse back issues.
Poor posture causes the spine to tighten up, leading to a flat back. A good way to fight this issue is to stretch out your glutes, hamstrings and ab muscles, in order to return the spine to normalcy.
As a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and someone that loves to learn about how the body functions, I always look to learn new training methods, techniques and tidbits of information on the topic.
If you’re like me, then the first stop you should make is by checking out Bullet Proof Back by Eric Wong.
A trainer to many big time MMA fighters that have experience in some of the top promotions such as the UFC, Bellator and Strikeforce, Wong has spent countless hours researching how to get your body in peak shape in order to compete be it in the cage, ring or on the mat.
For those that participate in sports such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts, it’s no secret that our body’s twist and turn every which way on a daily basis, which heightens our risk of sustaining back issues.
Chances are, sone of you out there reading this have likely had your back act up due to what you do on the mat in practice and in matches.
The best way to tackle this issue head on is to stop it before it can get too serious. Right now, once you finish reading this and checking out Mike’s site, go and stretch out a bit! It only takes a few minutes and will work wonders.
Your back will thank you later.
Science of Skill Writer
PS: Thanks to Eric for giving us a PDF review of his back pain course for this article.
Coach Daniel is the founder and head publisher at Science of Skill, LLC. A martial arts black belt and self defense instructor, Dan has spent years training with and interviewing some of the world's best self protection experts. His passion lies in encouraging others to train smart and to improve the skills that make them safer and stronger.
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